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Japan’s Apr steel imports rise 3% on year, 13% on month to 700,274 mt

Japan’s steel imports in April rose 2.7% year on year and 13.2% on the month to 700,274 mt, preliminary data released by the Ministry of Finance showed.

Ministry officials were unavailable for comment.

A Tokyo-based trader said that Japan’s key import sources, such as South Korean and Taiwanese mills, had been limiting their exports due to tight supply.

“Japanese mills are also limiting their supply for spot sales. Distributors have started importing from China and some Southeast Asian countries,” he added.

Imports from South Korea were 308,218 mt, down 3.8% year on year but up 2.6% from March, while imports from China were 121,760 mt, up 18.8% year on year and 33.9% from March.

Imports from ASEAN countries in April soared 122% year on year but fell 18.5% from March to 28,709 mt, the data showed.

Imports from ASEAN countries are still small, but if supply by Japanese mills for spot sales are limited, Japanese customers will continue to seek other suppliers, another trader in Tokyo said.

“Japanese mills have their steel plants in ASEAN countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. They may be able supply products with the required qualities for some Japanese customers,” he added.

Meanwhile, the average import price of steel in April was Yen 123,969/mt ($1,166/mt), up Yen 1,880/mt from those in March, according to the data.

The Japan Iron & Steel Federation will release its monthly data on May 31.

Source: Platts

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